Modelling weathering effects on the mechanical behaviour of rocks

Matteo Oryem Ciantia, Riccardo Castellanza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


The paper presents an experimental, theoretical and numerical approach in order to describe the effects of rock weathering on bonded geomaterials. The term rock weathering is used to refer to a number of chemical and physical phenomena that continuously transform a rock mass into granular soil. From an engineering point of view, rock weathering can be interpreted as a generalised decay of the mechanical properties of the original material. It acts at a constitutive level essentially by reducing the strength of the bonds joining the grains together. Such a material degradation can occur in a time scale which is comparable to the average life of engineering structures. Weathering can be crucial for what concerns the stability of slopes, cliffs and abandoned underground caves. In the experimental part of the paper micro and macro experimental investigations performed on calcarenite, a natural soft rock, are shown; short- and long-term debonding processes are identified as characterising rock weathering. A large set of hydro-chemo-mechanical data are recovered to properly characterise debonding processes by means of specific weathering tests. In particular, to reproduce long-term rock weathering in laboratory time, the progressive chemical debonding has been induced through the exposition of the rock to a uniform flow of an acid solution. In the theoretical part, it is shown how the progressive deterioration of the intergranular bonds due to weathering has been modelled satisfactorily by extending a strain hardening elastoplastic model by means of multiscale approach coupling hydro-chemo-mechanical processes. Such a model has been corroborated by simulating some tests of the previous part. Finally, in the numerical part of the work, some boundary value problems are presented, in which weathering effects cannot be neglected.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1054-1082
Number of pages29
JournalEuropean Journal of Environmental and Civil Engineering
Issue number9
Early online date27 Apr 2015
Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2016


  • chemical dissolution
  • FEM modelling
  • hydro-chemo-mechanical coupling
  • rocks
  • short- and long-term debonding
  • strain hardening constitutive models
  • weathering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Modelling weathering effects on the mechanical behaviour of rocks'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this